I disagree with you about the 40k 2nd into 3rd ed change. I disagree quite a bit. I worked for a FLGS in the states at the same time and it was pretty awful. 3rd edition remains to my mind an unmitigated disaster. 2nd ed needed pruning but they didn't trim off the correct stuff. I do agree that characters were too powerful, the close combat system was silly (fantasy's/rogue trader's was always better), and psychics were overpowered, and strategy cards - ugh.
BUT save modifiers were awesome, as was the vehicle penetration system (though I'm glad they were simplified after the release of the vehicle manual under 1.5ed), as was the army building system, as was the customization of units equipment. I could go on for a while.
On the flip side I'm not the least bit incensed or offended that fantasy battle has been drastically remade. I played several editions of fantasy battle (4th-7th?) and 40K and between the two 40K was always the better and more compelling game setting. Fantasy always suffered from being derivative and generic. But all the same I have a chaos army I'm quite fond of, and I'll always have the memories and of course I still have all my models.
Right now it sounds like GW might have a winner on their hands (or a Pyrrhic victory) but something needed to change. The cost of entry was too high, the balance was off, and the structure of the game (e.g. big blocks) constrained the play styles and the fun. All of that put people off and impeded sales.
So I half agree with you!